President Joe Biden has welcomed Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House for a three-day state visit as the East African nation prepares to deploy forces to Haiti as part of a U.N.-led effort to try to calm a spiralling security crisis in the Caribbean country.
Some 1,000 Kenyan police officers are set to arrive soon in Haiti, part of a multilateral security support mission that aims to help quell gang violence. Other countries expected to back up Kenyan forces include the Bahamas, Barbados, Benin, Chad and Bangladesh.
For years, the United States has partnered with Kenya on counterterrorism efforts in Africa, including battling the extremist group al-Shabab. Kenya has participated in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and an international maritime task force launched by the Biden administration in December in response to Houthi attacks against vessels operating in the Red Sea.
Ruto’s decision to send police forces to Haiti was welcomed by a top Biden administration official as an “unprecedented undertaking” and a show of global leadership by Kenya.
Kenya is the first African nation since 2008 to be honoured by the U.S. with a state visit.
Biden and Ruto will hold formal talks and a joint news conference on Thursday before a state dinner.
The U.S. and Kenya are marking their 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Kenya hosts Google and Microsoft offices and has positioned itself as the technology hub of East Africa, known as the Silicon Savannah.
Biden gathered dozens of African leaders in Washington in December 2022 to make the case that the United States under his watch was “all in” on Africa’s future and laid out billions in promised government funding and private investment on the continent. The Democrat also promised to visit sub-Saharan Africa in 2023. The promised visit to Africa by Biden never materialized.
All the while, Russia has tried to expand its economic and military influence across Africa. U.S. troops were recently ordered out of Niger by the ruling government and are expected to complete their withdrawal by the middle of September. Meanwhile, Russia has deployed military trainers to Niger. The United States has also fallen well behind rival China in investment in Africa, which has become a key battleground in the competition between the major powers.

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